At What Point Will More Black Men Stand Up to Street Harassment?
As I read the news of yet ANOTHER horrendous assault and murder of a black woman who had the audacity to rebuff the overtures of a dusty stranger who felt entitled to her attention and body, I have to wonder…when will the men as a collective take this as seriously as say, police brutality? When will the blatant misogyny reach a critical enough mass to be something that will be addressed on hip hop radio shows, NOI mosques, street corners, Twitter, and by black male actors, sports starts and other influencers?
Janese Talton-Jackson, 29 years old, and mother of three was shot dead when dusty, ashy Charles Anthony McKinney approached her with interest at a bar. She wasn’t interested, but he followed her out anyway and continued his unwanted, and presumably uninvited pursuit. She again rebuffed him, and in his outrage, he shot her in the chest, killing her.
When we hear stories like this, it very difficult to continue to downplay the pervasiveness of this, especially when I and countless black women I know have been subjected to bullying men who feel they are entitled to our time and attention simply because we share skin color. Let’s be honest. These same ‘dusty ashies’ aren’t accosting white and Asian women like they feel free to do so with black women. It’s that false familiarity, that “hey sista!” attitude that makes these dudes take liberties they wouldn’t with others.
What I wish is that more men like Damon Young, editor at Very Smart Brothers, would speak up for the verbally assaulted, bruised, battered, and murdered women who have fallen victim to a cultural practice that seems to be consistently escalated.
And this, again, is fucking scary. Not just because of how frequently this happens. But also because I know there will be people — men and women — who’ll hear about this murder. And will immediately think “Well, she must have said something disrespectful” or “She didn’t have to embarrass him by saying no. Just give him a fake number” or “How was she dressed?” or “What was she even doing out that late in Homewood?” As if this — men responding to disinterest with violence — wasn’t epidemic. As if any of this was her fault. And as if “What could she have done to prevent this?” matters at all, and “What can and should men do to stop men from doing this?” — which, ultimately, is the only relevant question here — doesn’t.
I think that the next time I read on someone’s Facebook wall that we black women are squawking for some harmless public social interaction customary in the black community, I might need to create a list of all of them and post it on this blog along with their photos, so women know who they are and stay the hell away from them.
Remember the 18 year-old-(barely) woman who was gang-raped by five boys in Brooklyn who ran her father off in a park in Brooklyn? This stuff keeps happening again, and again and again, and the reality of the danger black women face within the black community should be addressed in some collective, assertive, and meaningful manner. Not just by a few enlightened brothers, but all of them.